Rice Cooker, our little machine by Rattaya Nagorski

We run a small family Thai restaurant, so it's safe to assume that we go through a tremendous amount of rice. Our little rice cooker has crapped out on us once, thank goodness for warranty. But my uncle (Chef Mno) comes into work today only to discover that we are without a working rice cooker. I shiver even writing about it.

I can't say it's not a well oiled machine. It's constantly churning out delicious jasmine and long grain rice mix. Once we empty the freshly cooked rice into our warmer, we immediately start another batch. That little machine is on from 10am and works its magic all the way to 9pm every single day. I repeat: every single day.

From my garage we brought back another rice cooker we used for a short amount of time. Our current one then became the one back to the garage. Most likely it just needed a small break, a tiny vacation, before it could churn out more yummy rice. At least that was what we wanted to say.

My heart would skip a beat any time something in the restaurant was broken or stopped working. Was there power to it? When did it happen? Did it give up, or did someone did something to it? Not one person in this world would want to walk into a restaurant and the refrigeration is at 55 degrees. That would be such a nightmare, or something like a rice cooker not working, where it was so essential to our operation. So today was such a quick fix, but now we don't really have a backup, so hopefully the first one took a nice vacation instead of being broken. Shivers, I tell you.


Small Meetings by Rattaya Nagorski

I met with my general manager today at the most popular coffee shop chain in the world (assumed, of course), Starbucks. The weathered chairs went along with the stale air, it was early Monday morning and I imagined many small meetings was happening around me much like ours. Meetings of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and even just a solitude of coffee moment among a small crowd.

We had these small meetings often before we opened the first restaurant. We continued these meetings at different restaurant tables on site throughout the year. It was somewhat refreshing to meet outside our normal four walls. It was nice to talk shop, drink some sugary coffee, and simply talk about work outside of work.

This is my first blog entry about my work life. It seems so strange to even think it is a work life when it has consumed my entire life, my entire being. I would like to think that running a restaurant was something I excelled at, something I understood fairly well, and I wanted to combine my passion of writing and my work life together. The phrase "If you love what you do, it doesn't feel like working." OK, I'm definitely butchering the phrase, but I'm beginning to see the truth in that phrase. Often times I would wake up with a jolt, suddenly nervous, thinking I was supposed to be at work or I had missed a shift. Then I would realize, wait, I was just fine and that I made my own schedule.

We started small talks of opening our second restaurant. The words floated in the air throughout the last few weeks, and even more now at this particular meeting. We were meeting to look at a site, quite far away, both distance and the possibility of it even happening. Was I ready to go through all the chaos, emotions, and physical challenges again? Could we even get a realistic loan? Could we go through all this with much less verbal fights and frustrations?

My GM, Ben, smiled. He was ready and excited. But I was the one that would carry the financial burden. My current debt was still so deep right now with the first restaurant. Once again: could we do this again?

"We're building an empire," he said. "I love it."